Jan 26, 2010 | Filed Under: Personal Blogging
Ever watched The Truman Show? The 1998 movie with Jim Carrey as a man who discovers his entire life is a reality TV show. I watched it again recently and it struck a deep chord with me. Partially because for a movie made over 12 years ago (before Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or even Google was storing tons of our information) it highlighted the issue of privacy, albeit in an entertaining way. But mostly it resonated with me because like Truman, without ever questioning it, we have accepted the world into which we have been presented.
The movie begins by showing how Truman Burbank became the first human baby to be legally adopted by a television network. And the network producers decide to run a reality TV show where Truman lives out his entire life in a mockup town constructed under a massive artificial dome in the Hollywood hills.
Everyone except him is an actor, everything around him is fake, and his entire world has been constructed by Christof, the omnipotent creator of the show.
For 30 years Truman lives out his daily life of routine without ever questioning his surroundings or the rules of his own world. He doesn’t push boundaries, challenge himself or others, and makes no attempt to break out of the mould into which he has found himself. Does this sound familiar to you?
Relating this back to our own lives I can’t help but feel that the same attitudes exist all around us, especially in our professional lives. For the most part, we believe what we see and we take it as gospel. We don’t question the state of the art, we don’t challenge it, extend it, or try very hard to disprove it. We simply accept it as fact.
This is a dangerous reality. How can we ever hope to do great things if we settle with for our present state of life?
For Truman, he starts to question his reality when an outsider named Sylvia, infiltrates the show and raises doubt in his mind about the circumstances of his life. From thereon in Truman begins to notice things. He begins to see behavour in people that doesn’t make sense, he begins to recognise patterns that don’t seem normal (even though he doesn’t know what normal is), he starts to question his surroundings and begins to push the boundaries created for him by Christof.
It’s this new heightened awareness that brings Truman to realise that his entire world is a lie and leads to his eventual escape from the artificial dome.
But without that element of doubt given to him by Sylvia, Truman may have spent the rest of his entire life trapped in a world where nothing is as it seems. For myself and for everyone reading this I think we should all try to be a little more like Truman, challenging our surroundings and questioning everything, because when we do that we can do truly remarkable things.